Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR — 22 October 2018

This week’s roundup of legal news and comment includes a big Brexit march, a fracking upset, a winning personality and a helpful judge.

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Brexit

People’s Vote March

The march was organised by The People’s Vote, a cross-party grassroots campaign whose constituent groups include Open Britain, the European Movement UK, Britain for Europe, Scientists for EU, Healthier In, Our Future Our Choice, For Our Future’s Sake, Wales For Europe & InFacts.

Why are they doing this? They say the decision over whether we accept the deal the Government brings back is too important for politicians alone to decide. That’s why more and more people are demanding a People’s Vote.

How can it be done? They have published a paper on called The Roadmap to a People’s Vote which explains it all:

Public order

Anti-fracking protesters’ sentencing appeal

The four men were charged after taking part in a four-day direct action protest that blocked a convoy of trucks carrying drilling equipment from entering the Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool. […]

Sentencing the men, the judge, Robert Altham, said he thought the three men posed a risk of reoffending and could not be rehabilitated as “each of them remains motivated by an unswerving confidence that they are right”. He added: “Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions. Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody can achieve sufficient punishment.”

Reporting the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Guardian added:

Questions over the original trial judge’s family links to the oil and gas industry were also raised in court on Wednesday. Judge Robert Altham’s father and sister run JC Altham and Sons, a company believed to be part of the supply chain for energy giant Centrica, which has invested tens of millions of pounds in fracking.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) confirmed to the newspaper that it would be investigating a complaint (presumably that the judge should have recused himself on grounds of apparent bias). Meanwhile, the judgment of the Court of Appeal (presumably given extempore) has yet to be published in written form, but we will provide further details and a citation once that happens.

Legal professions

Law Society Excellence Awards

The unidentified author of Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken (reviewed here) has done a huge amount to expose the failings of the criminal justice system, with a book that remained in the Sunday Times bestseller top 10 for half a year and was circulated to all MPs in a crowdfunded campaign to prod Parliament into doing something to remedy the situation. Whether they can or will is another matter.

A recent poll by the Times Law Brief and Bar Council, designed to publicise the Bar Conference, asked barristers if they thought the identity of the Secret Barrister should be revealed: the overwhelming response, according to Twitter, was to reject the question as a cheap PR stunt and either ignore it or give a resounding No. The author’s reasons for anonymity are well explained in the book. Nothing would be served by revealing who they are, but perhaps the newspaper, having discovered by accident or design who it is, is anxious to exploit their scoop.

You can see a list of all the 2018 award winners here.

Family law

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Helping litigants in person

Wildblood has written and performs in a play to help litigants understand what family cases can be like, part of which was shown. Reed, who is also chair of the legal education charity The Transparency Project, was shown in chambers library fetching copies of ICLR Law Reports off the shelf, which was lovely, if a tad old-school.

The programme, presented by Seb Choudhury, is available to watch via iPlayer until 14 November 2018. We recommend it.

Crime

Hate crime review

“wide-ranging review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and consider if there should be additional protected characteristics such as misogyny and age.”

The review, which will commence in 2019, follows an earlier Law Commission report into hate crime, dating from May 2014. Building on that previous work, the new project will review the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and make recommendations for its reform.

See more about the Law Commission:

Dates and deadlines

Allegations of domestic abuse in family courts

Panel discussion, chaired by Louise Tickle, to mark the publication of the Transparency Project’s new guidance note HOW DO FAMILY COURTS DEAL WITH CASES ABOUT CHILDREN WHERE THERE MIGHT BE DOMESTIC ABUSE?

Panel including Sam Hill QC, Sarah Parsons (CAFCASS), Bob Greig (Only Dads / Only Mums), and Dr Freda Gardner (Psychologist).

Booking details via Eventbrite:

ICLR News

Knowledge base goes live

If you’ve got an idea for an article, on a topic that would help people understand the law, the legal system or legal information generally, let us know.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading.

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The ICLR publishes The Law Reports, The Weekly Law Reports and other specialist titles. Set up by members of the judiciary and legal profession in 1865.

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